The following video talk is based on a must-read piece Professor Stiglitz wrote in Vanity Fair.
It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran.
Yet, the most ‘serious’ budget plan Americans have on offer from Paul Ryan of Wisconsin proposes tax cuts for the wealthy without specifying which tax loopholes to close in order to make this plan work, when taxes for the wealthy are already at a historically low level. That doesn’t sound very serious to me. James Fallows calls this type of politicking canny, even cynical. I see it as further evidence that Americans really aren’t serious about tackling these issues.
Video of Stiglitz below in two parts.